By Celia Coates
What a very busy season this has been – I haven’t had enough time to write a full-length post. Instead, I am going to present an idea that set me thinking, one that might interest you too.
It’s from a fine commentary by Michael Chabon on a story by Jorge Luis Borges, “The Aleph”,
“It follows the classic pattern of one of H.P. Lovecraft’s horror stories, which are themselves modeled after certain stories by Edgar Allan Poe – though this is more of a wonder story than a horror story. … In Lovecraft, the universe is a vast malign entity separated from our humdrum existence – what we call “reality” – by the thinnest of membranes. Very persuasively, with all the obsessive fervor of a great writer, he conveys that cosmic, carnivorous destruction is always out there looking for a way in, always feeling for the spots where that membrane is thinnest. But he doesn’t take that step – making you believe that this experience is being undergone by a fully developed, conscious individual human being with a long past of heartache and sorrow and romantic entanglement. In “The Aleph,” Borges manages to do what Lovecraft can’t. He fully integrates an encounter with the infinite into the consciousness of what feels like a living breathing human being with stale breath and lint in his pocket.”
Wonder stories instead of horror stories? Perhaps wonder movies instead of horror movies?
What a glorious idea!
That’s what traditional belief systems (usually ancient ones) give us – art, stories, rituals, and pageantry that reveal the beauty, grandeur, and divinity that exist beyond our “humdrum existence.” There are many, many people who encounter what lies beyond the membrane that separates ordinary and extraordinary reality and find the glory of the supranormal. That encounter produces awe in living, breathing, human beings.
To create ways in which we could have more of that would be truly wonderful.
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This quote comes from “To Infinity and Beyond” by Michael Chabon, in LIGHT AND DARK: Writers on Creativity, Inspiration, and the Artistic Process, edited by Joseph Fassler, Illustrations by Doug McLean, Penguin Books. 2017.
The image that accompanies this idea is by a favorite artist and photographer, David Lewis